Today I planned to meet a couple of Fixed Gear Friends for a ride out to another of Yorkshire’s famous climbs (and the longest continuous gradient in England) Cragg Vale. The weather forecast for today for the whole area was for heavy rain all day and strong winds.
With this in mind, I decided more extreme measures were required and I wore:
- L/S Merino Baselayer
- Classic Bib Shorts
- Deep Winter Tights
- Winter Socks
- L/S Jersey
- Merino Hat
- Rain Jacket (Rapha Condor Club edition.)
I also took some silk glove liners and the winter collar in case it got even colder.
It was an early start and off we set into a light drizzle but with little wind. The ride out of Leeds was fairly uneventful and we trundled north through the lovely town of Saltaire (where the famous Salt’s Mill is located) and out into the countryside.
From here, the ride was a little chaotic… I wasn’t leading it so hadn’t thought about the route or planned it and, as it turns out, neither had Sam or Tim! There was a lot of map checking, head scratching and dead ends but it also meant that we all got to cycle on roads that we’ve never cycled before and see scenery we’ve never seen before.
Through wind and rain and up hill and down (the wrong) dales we went, happy to be cycling and happy to be on the Festive 500 in each other’s company. It only took us an extra four hours and the best part of forty miles to actually find the Cragg… But we celebrated this with a pint in the pub and a very satisfying lunch.
The day was marching on and, with some time constraints, we took the decision to cycle up Cragg Vale, back down again and then get the train home from Mytholmroyd. I still have no idea how to pronounce that properly. So, off we set. The climb itself isn’t anything exciting and barely exceed 5% but the locals are very proud if it, often upgrading it to the ‘longest continuous gradient in the UK.’ It’s reasonably well sheltered to start with and winds up through streets of houses and an occasional pub but, once towards the top of the moor, all that changed and it was into the heavy rain and 20mph+ headwinds. It was hard going, especially after the 4,000 ft of fixed gear climbing we’d endured to get there but up we went. All my gear performed faultlessly and, as usual, comfort is the key word. I also didn’t look too out of place in the pub!
The top was a brief moment of celebration and opportunity for pictures followed by a fantastic descent all the way back to Mytholmroyd and the train station. A short journey back to Leeds and then a short cycle home and the day was done.
All in all, a good days cycling only let down by my phone which crashed halfway through the ride losing 37km from my Festive 500 total! Raging. However, there is photographic evidence that I continued the ride with Sam and Tim so hopefully that’ll suffice as evidence.
My total now stands at 248 km on Strava or 285 actual km cycled.
Sam’s excellent blog on his Fixed Gear Festive 500 is worth reading and can be found by scrolling down at:
Thanks for reading so far!